How I'm Pushing Restart After a Brain Injury
I look in the mirror and I don’t recognize the person staring back at me. I don’t recognize this person anymore. Life has changed so much over the last year and a half, I feel like I am living in the Twilight Zone. It is amazing how you can take things for granted. I remember teaching my students that one second could change things forever, and here I am now. I am living proof.
I was already dealing with erythromelalgia and Raynaud’s phenomenon. Those diseases were taking a toll on my body, but I was determined not to let them control me. Then I sustained a devastating brain injury at work and my life changed forever. Now I have to use speech to text technology. I can no longer read because I have lost partial vision in my left eye. I started having seizures, which caused me to lose my driver’s license. Besides the constant pain, I have had to deal with PTSD, major depressive disorder and anxiety. To add to this, I have had to deal with people questioning my injury because they cannot see it. The isolation has been devastating and I learned quickly that people I thought were friends really weren’t. After my brain injury, my other two diseases progressed rapidly and my body started to deteriorate. Now I am waiting to see a specialist to determine whether or not I have another autoimmune disease.
I could be angry and I could just give up. It would be easy, so easy. In the beginning, I wanted to. I didn’t care anymore. It is very easy to become consumed in your sickness and pain. Sometimes you just want to close yourself off and not try anymore. I am here to tell you not to do that to yourself. There is a reason why you are here. No matter what you are going through, you have an important purpose. I am determined to use my story to help others find strength in themselves to carry on.
I had the opportunity to speak with a very renowned neurosurgeon, Charles H. Tator. He told me that I would find my strength in helping others and in volunteering, even if I could never teach again. He gave me hope. This man has worked with important people like Sidney Crosby. If he believed in me that much, I needed to believe in myself.
After speaking with him, I remembered one of my favorite quotes, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” I am asking you to never give up hope and never give up on yourself.